Jagjit Singh dies – ghazal king immortalised

The renowned singer's funeral will take place tomorrow at the Chandanwadi crematorium,Mumbai.

Written by Agencies | Mumbai | Published:October 10, 2011 10:41 am

Ghazal king Jagjit Singh,the soul-stirring voice behind ‘Hazaron khwaishe aisi’,’Ye kaghaz ki kashti and ‘Jhuki jhuki si nazar’,dies this morning over a fortnight from a brain haemorrhage.

The 70-year-old singer,who along with wife Chitra almost rediscovered the ghazal genre in the 70s and 80s,was admitted to the Lilavati hospital on September 23 and was in coma since then.

“Jagjit Singh passed away at 8.10 am after a terrible hemorrhage,” said Dr Sudhir Nandgaonkar,hospital spokesperson,here.

The renowned singer’s funeral will take place tomorrow at the Chandanwadi crematorium,Mumbai.

The day he was admitted,he was supposed to perform at a concert at the Shanmukhananda Hall,Matunga,in Mumbai but the programme was cancelled after he was taken ill.

Despite a surgery,his condition did not improve and he remained on life support.

Singh,a Padma Bhushan recipient,was born in Sri Ganganagar,Rajasthan,on February 8,1941.

After graduation,he shifted base to Mumbai,to explore a career in music. In the next decade and half,he earned nationwide fame as a ghazal singer and music composer. He sang in several languages,including Hindi,Punjabi,Bengali,Gujarati,Nepali.

His personal life,though,was marked by a tragedy. His only son,Vivek,died in a car accident in 1990 when he was just 18.

The music world expressed grief on hearing the news of Jagjit Singh’s death. Fellow ghazal singer,Pankaj Udhas,described Jagjit as an “extremely versatile singer”. “I am devastated,” Udhas said on phone from Pune.

Legendary singer Lata Mangeshkar said Singh’s death was a big loss for the music industry. “I knew him well. I hoped he would come out of the coma. But God willed otherwise.”

Stating that Jagjit brought ghazals into the mainstream,Lata said,“He worked very hard… sang from the heart. Listening to him,people got intoxicated.”

Asha Bhosle said hearing Jagjit’s ghazals brought peace to the mind. “Listening to him was a soothing experience. If one wanted to get away from everyday stress,the best way was to play a Jagjit Singh record.”

Asha described ‘Sarakti Jaye Hai Rukh Se Nakab Ahista…’ as her favourite Jagjit ghazal.

“I feel sad for his wife Chitra. She lost a son earlier,and now her husband. She is very lonely now,” Asha said. “Jagjit Singh’s death has caused an irreparable loss to the Hindi film and music industry,” said noted lyricist Javed Akhtar. He described Jagjit Singh as an extraordinary ghazal singer.

Classical vocalist Shubha Mudgal said: “I first heard him when I attended an event at IIT Kanpur named ‘Music Night by Jagjit and Chitra’ while in school. He was an icon. There is nothing I can say to console his wife (Chitra). All I can say is that he will never be forgotten. I pray to god to give her the strength to recover from this loss.”

An emotional Usha Uttup recalled her time with Singh. “I can’t believe it. It was because of him that ordinary men could enjoy good ghazal. We worked together in a jingle when I was just staring my career.

“He introduced the 12 string guitar and the bass guitar in ghazal singing in a way no one could. I spoke to him recently. What a human being! It is a great loss.”

Freeing ghazal from the shackles of complexity,Singh brought a simplicity and lyrical quality to the genre,which was uniquely his own.

His huge body of work includes some 80 albums,film music,numerous concerts,duets and bhajans.

He is also the only composer and singer to have composed and recorded songs written by former Prime Minister – Atal Behari Vajpayee in two albums — ‘Nayi Disha’ (1999) and ‘Samvedna’ (2002).

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his wife Gursharan Kaur were among his admirers.

Condoling the loss of the singer,Singh said,“Making ghazals accessible to everyone,he gave joy and pleasure to millions of music lovers in India and abroad… he was blessed with a golden voice.”

The ghazal maestro will continue to live in his hundreds of songs even as he bid farewell to the mortal world.

In his own words,’Farishton ab to sone do,kabhi fursat mein kar lena hisaab,aahista,aahista.’ (Angels let me sleep now,you can question me about my deeds in leisure.)

Jagjit Singh: Obituary

Stirring millions of hearts with his soulful numbers ‘Jhuki jhuki si nazar’ and ‘Kaagaz ki kashti’,ghazal king Jagit Singh infused a new life in the dying genre of music in the seventies and carved a niche for himself in Bollywood.

The pain and melancholy in his voice gave vent to the feelings of many a lonely heart.

Giving hits like ‘Yeh zindagi kisi aur ki,mere naam ka koi aur hai,’ ‘Patta-patta boota-boota haal hamaara jaane hai,’ ‘Hontho se chhoo lo tum’,’Tum ko dekha’,’Hazaar baar ruke ham and hazaar baar chale’,Singh made a mark during the ’70s when the ghazal scene was dominated by well-established names like Noor Jehan,Malika Pukhraj,Begum Akhtar,Talat Mahmood and Mehdi Hassan.

The voice behind the timeless ghazals was inspired by singers like K L Sehgal,Talat Mahmood,Abdul Karim Khan,Bade Ghulam Ali Khan and Amir Khan.

One of the most successful and loved artistes of his time,he has left behind a huge body of work in a career spanning five decades,including 80 albums.

Often called the ‘Ghazal King’ by his fans and peers,Jagjit was born on February 8,1941 in Sriganganagar,Rajasthan,to Amar Singh Dhiman,a government employee,and Bachan Kaur. He had four sisters and two brothers and was called Jeet by his family.

He was raised as a Sikh by religion. His birth name was Jagmohan but his Sikh father rechristened him as Jagjit following the advice of his guru.

It was his father,who first recognised his son’s talent. He sent young Jagjit to learn the nuances of music under a blind teacher,Pandit Chhaganlal Sharma. He later trained under Ustad Jamal Khan of Sainia gharana for six years and gained knowledge in the khayal,thumri and dhrupad forms.

Singh was of the view that music was for inspiration and not for competition. “The moment one brings competition into music,the soul is lost.”

In a recent interview,he had regretted the fact that devotion and practice were disappearing from music at a time when everyone was running after instant fame.

“Music is a vast subject. There is mathematics and grammar in music. Unless one knows all of it,he cannot become good singer. One should learn music for 15 years before actually trying their hands at singing ghazals,” he had said.

Among his most memorable numbers were ‘Tum itna jo muskara rahe ho’,’Apni Marzi Se Kahan Apne Safar Ke Hum Hain’ and ‘Pehle Har Cheez Thi Apni Magar Ab Lagta Hai Apne Hi Ghar Mein Kisi Doosre Ghar Ke Hum Hain’.

His last concert was planned with Ghulam Ali on September 23 at Shanmukhananda Hall,Matunga,in Mumbai but was cancelled after he was taken ill the same day. The duo had given a stirring performance days ago in Delhi.

Singh began his musical journey singing ‘shabads’ or devotional songs in gurudwaras. He studied in DAV College,Jalandhar where his fee was waived because of his voice. He got a chance as professional singer in Jalandhar’s All India Radio station,which offered him six live music segments a year for small payments.

But success was a faraway dream for the singer,who came to Mumbai in 1961 to try his luck in playback singing but after some failed attempts,a dispirited Singh returned to Jalandhar.

Not one to give up,the ghazal maestro decided to give himself another chance and returned to the city of dreams in 1965. Singh managed to get two of his ghazals recorded with HMV. This was also the time when he decided to do away with his turban and hair.

However,playback singing continued to elude him and he earned by composing jingle,ad films and documentaries. He met his wife Chitra during one such recording and after two years,they decided to marry in 1970,which was also a turning point in his career.

Bollywood’s loss was ghazal’s gain,as Jagjit’s fresh voice infused a new life into the dying genre,which was confined to select admirers. In 1975,HMV asked Jagjit to compose his first ever LP album ‘The Unforgettables’. The album featured Jagjit- Chitra ghazals,which were completely different.

Singh is also credited with introducing modern instruments along with traditional sarangi and tabla in ghazals.

The next album Singh recorded was the Punjabi ‘Birha Da Sultan’,poems of Shiv Kumar Batalvi,which continue to be popular even today. Jagjit and Chitra then composed and sang the first-ever double album “Come Alive”. Two more double albums “Live at Wembley” and “Live at Royal Albert Hall”,recorded in concert,followed in 1979 and 1982. Soon the couple were busy doing sold-out concerts.

Movie success too followed. In 1980,Jagjit gave his voice to Javed Akhtar’s poetry in film “Saath Saath”. Mahesh Bhatt’s “Arth”,which came in the same year saw Jagjit and Chitra’s popularity sky rocket with evergreen numbers like ‘Tum itna jo muskura rahe ho’.

In 1987,Jagjit recorded “Beyond Time”,the first digital CD by an Indian musician. Another milestone was to follow when he was roped in to record and compose Gulzar’s epic TV serial,”Mirza”.

But while he was climbing new heights in his professional life,the singer suffered his life’s biggest tragedy when he and Chitra lost their only son – 18-year-old Vivek – in a car accident in 1990.

The tragedy brought desperation and a pause in their lives. Chitra lost her voice and never returned to stage or a recording studio but Jagjit battled on his depression.

“Man Jite Jagjit”,containing Sikh devotional Gurbani,was the first album he recorded after his son’s demise.

The Padma Bhushan awardee is also the only composer and singer to have composed and recorded songs written by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee in two albums,’Nayi Disha’ (1999) and ‘Samvedna’ (2002).

He was planning team up with Gulzar again after the success of ‘Mirza Ghalib’ for an album based on the letters and poems of the 18th century poet.

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